The Knesset on Tuesday night approved the "Bishara Law" on its second and third reading. The law was approved by with a vote of 36 in favor and 11 against.
According to the bill, Mks who refuse to appear for interrogation in cases where they are suspected for felonies will lose salary and other benefits. The bill was initiated by MK Yisrael Hasson (Kadima), who is also former deputy head of Shin Bet, and MK Yariv Levin (Likud), chairman of the Knesset House Committee.
The law was dubbed the “Bishara bill” for former Arab MK Azmi Bishara, who is still wanted for questioning on suspicion that he revealed sensitive security details to Hizbullah terrorists in advance of the Second Lebanon War. Until a special act by the Knesset, Bishara collected his full pension after he fled the country in 2007. Since then, Bishara has collected over NIS 500,000 in pension money and benefits.
In a letter attached to the bill, its sponsors wrote that “the situation today is one of extreme unfairness. Therefore we must set a public norm by which representatives of the public fulfill their obligations under the law. Sanctions must be taken against anyone, no matter their religion or background, who is suspected of a crime and who does not present himself for questioning. This is a reasonable action for democracy to take to defend itself,” the letter said.
The bill was passed despite strident opposition by leftist and Arab groups.